“Home for the Holidays” has special meaning for Winona family

An area family that once called refugee camps ” home” finally has a home of their own just in time for the holidays.

The Yang family first immigrated to the United States in 2004. Before then, all they knew was a world of war and destruction back in Laos.

They’ve never really known what it’s like to have a solid, permanent home where they can feel safe and secure. That is until now.

The blue-colored house off of Edward Street in Winona is the start of a new beginning for the Yang family.

“He’s happy because we now have a home to live (in),” said Vang Yang,

Having grown up in the war-torn country of Laos “home” for Koua Yang, his wife Lee, his son Vang and daughter Doua was far from the standard enclosed walls they stand in now.

“Home” was always changing.

“Living in Laos, it’s not like living in America,” Vang translated for his father. “Since he was born the war’s already been going on, so they have to move from place to place to place until the day that he moved to the United States.”

After years of running, escaping imprisonment and death and seeking shelter in refugee camps during the Laotian civil war, they finally came to America eight years ago.


This was the story that captivated the Minnesota chapter of the Habitat for Humanity Organization.

“I can’t believe that they’ve made it here, I really can’t, and I feel really blessed that we had the opportunity to build a home for them,” said Jan Plimpton, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Minnesota.

The Yang family was selected as the owners of the 46th habitat home built in Winona and Filmore counties.

This past June, the building began.

As part of the program, the family contributed 400 hours of hard work and sweat to help volunteers build the house. After six months, construction was complete.

The reward — A brand new three-bedroom, energy-efficient home built that comes with a zero-percent, 30-year mortgage.

It was also built with donations of money and materials.

“Our goal is to eliminate poverty housing from this state and we’re not there yet, but we’re working on it,” said Plimpton. “So, one house at a time.”

And now for the Yang family, the next chapter, the better chapter of their lives can finally begin.

“They plan when they move in, they want to start their lives in a better way than what they lived in Laos,” Vang translated for his father.

Their new house is valued at $155,000.

The Yang’s home actually marks a milestone in Minnesota.

It’s the 2,000th habitat home to built by the organization in the state.